Accenture’s Sarah Kruger covers gender equality in the workforce regularly including in this foundational post

Breaking the glass ceiling in 2020

Gender pay gap and discrepancies in promotion rates between men and women in the U.S. workforce linger, according to a new study from SmartAsset. Using data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an independent federal agency that promotes equality through the enforcement of federal civil rights laws, SmartAsset examined national, industry and geographic trends in promotion rates by sex. Key findings include: 1. Managerial white-collar jobs are predominantly filled by men. 2. Within the private sector, the odds of promotion for men are about one and a half times higher than they are for women. 3. Women are promoted at higher rates than men in less than 10 percent of industries. Of the 55 industries with more than 200,000 employees reported to the EEOC, there are only five in which the odds of promotion for a woman are higher than for a man.

Goldman Sachs announces diversity rule for companies going public

Also at Davos last week, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon made the news when he told CNBC that the investment bank wouldn’t take companies public unless the company had at least one diverse board member. “Starting on July 1 in the U.S. and Europe, we’re not going to take a company public unless there’s at least one diverse board candidate, with a focus on women,” Solomon told CNBC. “And we’re going to move towards 2021 requesting two.” Kim Elsesser noted in Forbes that though Solomon didn’t define exactly what he meant by diverse, his focus was clearly on women. “The performance of public offerings of U.S. companies with at least one female director has been significantly better in the last four years than those without,” Solomon said. “The actual numbers are striking,” Elsesser wrote. “Companies with one diverse board member saw a 44 percent jump in their average share price within a year of going public, while those with no diverse boards saw only a 13 percent increase in share price.”

Women outnumber men in the U.S. workforce

Women now outnumber men in the U.S. workforce, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are now 109,000 more American women working than men, occupying 50.04 percent of the positions. “Women are now the majority of the workforce, and there’s no looking back.” Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s, told Forbes. “Women are going to increasingly dominate the labor market.” Women have historically dominated education and healthcare jobs, but they are also highly represented in government-service (58 percent) and financial-related jobs (56 percent). “A gap still exists between the labor-force participation rate for women and for men in the United States, a measurement of the share of people who are working or trying to find a job,” Business Insider noted. “In December, the rate stood at 57.7 percent for women and 69.2 percent for men. A significant wage gap remains as well.”

Gender pay gap in the gig economy

The gig economy promises flexibility and optimal use of talents, but still has a problem with gender pay gap, claims Naomi Cahn. She cites a recent analysis by Honeybook, a business and financial platform for freelancers, which found that women were making 35 percent less per project. “Because women took on more projects/year than men—17 percent—that helped shrink the gender pay gap,” Cahn writes in a Forbes blog post. “Women were three times more likely than men to explain that the wage gap was due to their underselling and undervaluing their services.” While women could be individually coached to ask for more money for their services, Cahn recommends exploring broader solutions on the institutional level. “If we are adamant about striving for gender equality in the gig economy, we need to be simultaneously concerned with ways to enhance women’s equality in the general labor market,” she writes. “Solutions also need to focus on the platforms themselves. That means, for example, including more transparency, so that women know what others are charging for the same services. The platforms could publish reasonable hourly rates, or suggest hourly rates to users.”

To advance gender parity, start with entry-level women

Managers are a critical link to making gender advancement a reality, according to Rosina Racioppi. “If we want to achieve gender parity, we must ensure that women have a realistic understanding of how performance and rewards work,” she writes in a blog post. “We must start with entry-level women before they create their own barriers to advancement.” Racioppi believes managers should provide women with guidance, skill development, and exposure to influencers and mentors, in order for them to advance their careers. “Managers can also help early-career women think about their roles in the context of the larger organization,” she writes. “With clarity on how their capabilities lead to an impact on the business, women find it much easier to set appropriate priorities, rather than try to do everything. Clarity about priorities breeds confidence, an essential ingredient for advancement.” While CEOs and executives have a large role to play in gender parity, Racioppi stresses the importance of managers’ involvement to set the stage. “Every manager has a unique opportunity and responsibility to add to the pipeline of savvy, skilled and confident women,” she writes.

How tech managers can help improve gender equality at banks

More women are joining banks as data scientists and quantitative associates, and tech managers can help with that growing trend, claims Jacob Kosoff. “There is an opportunity for us as an industry to create a better environment that better supports women in tech, a sector that has been historically dominated by men,” he writes in an op-ed piece in American Banker. “In doing so, we can be more appealing to all, regardless of gender.” He advises managers to really listen to their associates and to be proactive about their development goals. “Developing your team members for other roles in the company will not just benefit them, but also help with recruiting and retaining the best talent,” Kosoff writes. Other ways tech managers can help improve gender equality in the workforce include mentorship and seeking feedback on the company culture. “Big changes across an entire industry really happen one person at a time, and managers are uniquely positioned to address the diversity challenge in tech and in banking,” he writes.

Gender diversity at Canada’s top firms

While 55 of the 60 companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange have at least two women on their board, there is still more work to be done on gender diversity, claims Lesley Marks, BMO Private Wealth Canada’s chief investment strategist. “In general, what we’ve seen is companies with more diversity perform better on what is probably one of the most efficient metrics, which is, profitability,” she told Morningstar’s Ruth Saldanha in an interview. “And there has been a lot of focus and attention on the C-suite and in the boardroom. But we’re missing something still I think in the middle, in the middle management ranks, which is really where our pipeline grows in order to fill those upper-rank seats. So, I think we still need to focus on that area.” Marks also believes that there is a marked difference in diversity across industries. “Sectors like the financials, consumer communication sectors, tend to also have more women represented in the senior ranks, in leadership in those sectors, and less so in areas like energy and materials,” she said.

It takes a professional village to reach gender equality

At American Banker’s annual gala recognizing the most powerful women in banking and finance, the magazine’s Laura Alix observed that the consistent theme was the need for more allies in the fight for gender equality. “Several speakers gave credit to the mentors who had helped them rise in executive ranks,” she wrote. “They emphasized that goals like gender parity cannot be achieved unless they can embrace that role for others, assisting the next generation of women leaders while also enlisting additional allies.” Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, who was the most powerful women in banking for the third consecutive year, gave credit to Barbara Desoer, the former CEO of Citibank and the recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award, for being willing to offer direct guidance that had a significant impact on her career, and said everyone needs that kind of a “village” which can foster growth. “Everyone needs a village—men and women,” Bessant said. “And it’s not as simple as a personal village. We’ve got to have personal and professional villages. The role of all of you in your professional villages has got to be to tell people that which they must hear.”

A new strategy for gender equality

There is unprecedented energy and attention around gender equality, which makes this a moment when extraordinary progress is possible with bold and ambitious goals, argues Melinda Gates. “We shortchange women if we set our sights too low. Aiming for parity in the workforce is not enough,” she writes in an extensive op-ed piece in Harvard Business Review. “Attempting to address intractable problems like harassment and pay disparities piecemeal—without recognizing that they are all parts of a broader whole—is not enough either.” Gates believes the goal should be to expand women’s power and influence in society. “If we want to see results, more philanthropists, venture capitalists, businesses, and policy makers need to be willing to invest in gender-focused interventions,” she writes. Gates and her team at Pivotal Ventures have created a three-pronged strategy to achieve measurable results by 2030—dismantling the most pervasive barriers to women’s professional advancement; fast-tracking women in the sectors with outsize impact on society; and amplifying external pressure on the institutions that can reinvent the status quo. “This is our chance. And if we seize it, then maybe the next time Rosie shows up in the mailbox announcing, ‘We did it!’ she’ll be right,” Gates concludes.

The trouble with cute nicknames for women leaders

Female founders and women in business are changing the world, so it’s time to drop words such as “mompreneurs” and “she-E-Os”, argues Leigh Buchanan. “From a semantic viewpoint, the words or phrases express meanings antithetical to their intent. The word entrepreneur derives from the Old French: to undertake an enterprise. Subbing in mom for entre suggests—roughly—undertaking maternity,” she writes in this Inc. magazine op-ed. “As for she-E-O, the word being replaced is chief. Why would any woman want to eliminate chief from her title? Isn’t occupying that top slot one reason women—and men—start companies in the first place?” Buchanan notes that some women are embracing female-forward descriptors and titles (boss lady, girl boss, boss babe, she-E-O, etc.), and that they tend to trend on social media. “Many women find such titles empowering: at once a bold challenge to leadership stereotypes and a cheeky assertion of female attitude. Others say they make their teeth hurt,” she writes. “Whatever one’s reaction, the terms send conflicting messages: Separate but equal has always been an iffy proposition.”

How to comply with equal pay laws

New York state’s broadened equal pay laws will go into effect on Oct. 8, making it the latest jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so. Similar state efforts will also go into effect later this month in Alabama, Maine and Illinois. New York’s new law will require equal pay for “substantially similar work,” not just “equal work,” making it illegal for employers to base compensation packages on a job title. It also broadens the list of protected classes to include not just gender, but also gender identity and expression, race, sexual orientation, marital status, age and others. Alonzo Martinez has several suggestions for employers to comply with the new laws: 1. Decide whether to comply with the laws in the jurisdictions with laws in effect or pick a holistic approach. 2. Make sure the third-party vendors you use abide by the laws. 3. Circulate information to all managers involved in hiring and salary decisions. 4. Complete a pay analysis and fix any discrepancies. “Lawmakers are embracing pay equity, and that means employers must get on board if they haven’t already,” he writes in Forbes. “Now’s the time to tailor your own workplace policies and practices to ensure that all workers earn a fair and equitable wage based on their work product and skill, and nothing else.”

How companies can be proactive about women’s equality

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day in the U.S., celebrating the 99th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, believes it’s time for companies to stop just talking about equality at work, and start approaching it with urgency and tangible action. “When it comes to equality in the workplace, I know for a fact that plenty of companies want to become more diverse and offer more opportunities to people from a variety of backgrounds,” she writes in this Inc. article. “But if you don’t make diversity a goal, then it won’t happen. You won’t see change unless you tell people it’s a metric to measure.” Zak believes that companies need to step up their hiring efforts, and provide support networks for diversity. “Hiring for diversity is a great step forward, but it’s not the final step,” she writes. “There’s always work to be done making sure that everyone in your office is supported and has access to the same networks and opportunities as everyone else.” She also argues that companies should donate to organizations that support women and minorities. “If you want to help make a larger change worldwide, then you should look into extending your support beyond your company or customers,” Zak writes.

Every S&P 500 company has a woman on its board

Last week, Dallas-based Copart appointed Diane Morefield to its board of directors. The company had the last remaining all-male board on the S&P 500. According to a report by research firm Equilar, one in eight S&P 500 boards was all-male in 2012. Women now hold 27 percent of the board seats, a nearly 17 point jump from 2012. “Increased pressure from big investors like BlackRock, changing public sentiment in the #MeToo era and research linking board diversity to better financial performance have all spurred companies to recruit more women to their boards,” writes Ruth Umoh in Forbes. According to the Equilar report, the S&P 500 company with the highest percentage of female board members is the student loan service Naviant. Umoh argues that state legislation also played a role in the increased diversity. “In 2018, California became the first state to mandate that all publicly traded companies domiciled there have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019.” she writes. “Shortly after, New Jersey introduced a similar proposal that would require public companies with more than five directors to have at least three women on their board by 2021.”

How to rewire recruiting for gender inclusion

There are easy ways to make recruiting more inclusive for women, and they may be obvious once pointed out, argues Kate Rockwood. In this Inc. article, she shares three tips to ensure more women apply: 1. Neutralize job ads. “You know better than to post for a “bright young gal” to answer the phones, but it might be less obvious that other terms—rock star, ninja, dominate—can be just as off-putting for women,” Rockwood writes. She advises replacing gendered language with more neutral wording to encourage women candidates. 2. Cast a more strategic net. Posting job openings in more women-centric platforms will open the floodgates of female talent. 3. Balance the odds. Rockwood cites research, which found that when the ratio of candidates was 1 to 1, the odds of a woman being hired were 50 percent. “When only one of the four candidates is a woman, her odds plummet to 0 percent, likely because she’s seen as a “token” rather than a serious option. Block that bias by aiming for an equal representation of women in the final interview rounds,” she concludes.

Shared responsibility in the workplace

From taking notes at meetings to planning holiday and birthday celebrations at the office, women are 48 percent more likely than men to volunteer for thankless office tasks, which should be a lesson for encouraging shared responsibility in the workplace, according to Jim Ludema and Amber Johnson. “These sorts of responsibilities are called non-promotable tasks,” they write in Forbes. “Leaders don’t move up a rung on the ladder because they take good meeting notes, remember to unload the dishwasher in the break room, or keep the paper stocked in the copy machine.” The authors derive three lessons from this grim picture: 1. Men need to do their fair share. 2. Leaders need to create a fair process. 3. Leaders need to build a culture of shared responsibility. “Rather than taking advantage of the kindness of a few teammates, a culture of shared responsibility says it is everyone’s job to serve the team,” they write. “That is about more than just getting the break room refrigerator cleaned out; it’s about having each other’s back, sharing each other’s burdens, and moving the organization forward faster, together.”

Why gender diversity is a smart business decision

Giving gender diversity a consideration in hiring is simply a smarter decision for entrepreneurs, claims Marla Tabaka. “This is not strictly about equality; mixed gender groups simply make better decisions,” she writes in an Inc. blog post. “The teams that take social sensitivity, as well as other substantive issues, into consideration come up with ideas and solutions that promise the most beneficial outcome.” She cites several studies which found that having a gender-diverse workforce often resulted in an increase in both revenue and growth. “Finding the sweet spot in gender balance holds greater promise of profitability, innovative expression, and growth,” Tabaka writes. “The fact is, diverse teams can develop more innovative ideas. When people from different contexts work together, their unique perspectives often lead to better results.”

IMF’s Lagarde speaks out against tokenism

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, no longer wants to be a token. Last week, at the seventh annual Forbes Women’s Summit, Lagarde told an audience that she refuses to attend meetings in which she would be the only woman, and encouraged others to do the same. “Make sure it’s not just about you, but there are other, younger women that are also coming up in the ranks, so that the day when you stop, they are there to also make space for others,” she said. “That’s my very strong wish.” Lagarde also highlighted the results of a joint study with the World Bank, which found that 79 percent of the 189 member countries of both organizations still have discrimination against women in their legal frameworks, ranging from inheritance prohibitions to an inability to produce collateral when borrowing money. While there are currently only six countries without any legal discrimination between men and women, Lagarde remains optimistic. “It doesn’t make me sad or depressed, because I think there is a lot of inner strength in the women’s movement,” she said.

JPMorgan Chase settles paternity leave suit

Last week, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $5 million to settle a class-action discrimination claim filed by hundreds of male employees in the U.S., who alleged the bank’s parental leave policy was biased against fathers. The case originated from a complaint Derek Rotondo filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, when the bank refused to grant him permission to take 14 weeks of parental leave after his son was born. Rotondo alleged the HR department informed him the full 16 weeks of paid parental leave were only available for women. He then teamed up with other fathers and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for a class-action suit against the bank. “I love my children, and all I wanted was to spend time with them when they were born,” Rotondo said in a statement from the ACLU. “I’m proud that since I filed my charge, Chase has clarified its policy to ensure that both male and female employees who wish to be the primary parental caregiver have equal access to those benefits.”

Lloyd’s of London faces more sexism criticism

Earlier this year, Bloomberg BusinessWeek exposed issues of sexual harassment at Lloyd’s of London. Now comes a first-person essay by The Evening Standard reporter Sophie Jarvis, who used to work as an underwriter at the market. “On my first day as an underwriter, aged just 19, I was told in no uncertain terms that heels, a dress, and plenty of make-up were pretty much compulsory if I was going to be a success,” she writes. “I remember once how a senior broker came to our box and declared: ‘All you women are good for is spending our money.’ I quipped back: ‘And writing your policies.’ I was rather pleased at my speedy response, until my manager pulled me to one side for a rollicking: ‘If you don’t like that kind of joke, Lloyd’s isn’t for you.’ And that was from one of my few female bosses.” Jarvis mentions her hope for change at the company when Inga Beale was appointed chief executive, and her disappointment when she was later replaced by a man. “I know some of my former Lloyd’s colleagues will complain that articles like this are deterring women from entering the market. That’s true, perhaps. But we’re only telling it as it is. Shoot the groper, not the messenger,” Jarvis concludes.

Bank of England aims to be a diversity role model

Improving gender diversity in UK financial services is about deeds, not words, argues the Bank of England’s COO Joanna Place. Speaking at the Women of the Square Mile event in London last week, she said the central bank was making significant progress toward its own diversity targets and hoped to lead by example. “We have made progress but recognize there is more to do, not only in respect of gender diversity but also in ensuring that people feel able to join and thrive in the Bank of England regardless of their identity,” Place said. “We know that advancing gender diversity and wider inclusion require a cultural change and that this takes time, but we can say that we have started the journey and are well down the road.” The bank’s regulatory arm, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), requires banks and insurers to have a policy to consider a broad set of qualities and competencies when recruiting board members, and to promote diversity among them.

Why women executives deserve credit for mentoring

Senior-level women are often asked to help boost the careers of junior-level women, which Kara Alaimo calls “a second unpaid shift” that should come with credit and compensation. “This kind of labor—such as mentoring or serving on committees designed to improve corporate policies toward women—is essential to helping women advance, which ultimately redounds to the benefit of their employers,” she writes in a Bloomberg op-ed. Women do better when their mentors are other women, but because women hold just 24 percent of senior positions globally, Alaimo claims they have to do more of it. “This puts a significant burden on the women who are being called upon to do all of this unpaid mentoring,” she writes. There are several ways employers can recognize women’s efforts and labor, according to Alaimo. “Such responsibilities could be part of their formal job descriptions,” she writes. “Alternatively, women who are asked to participate in special projects could receive extra compensation, extra vacation time, or help from other staffers on unrelated assignments.”

Disclosure of workforce policies yields dividends

Companies that publish their workforce policies on issues like pay equity and paid maternity leave can generate up to three percent more return on equity than their peers that don’t, according to a new study. JUST Capital analyzed 890 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies on their approaches toward key human capital management issues. “This assessment of the current state of worker-related policies across corporate America revealed a sobering picture: It’s still the wild west of workforce policy disclosure with little direction on how to best measure issues like pay equity, paid time off, paid parental leave, flexible work, diversity and inclusion policies and targets, provision of day care services, worker training policies, and tuition reimbursement,” writes JUST Capital’s CEO Matthew Whittaker in a commentary for Fortune. The study found that only two percent—18 of the 890 companies analyzed—disclosed their workforce policies on all nine issues, but those that did so generated up to three percent higher return on equity than their peers. “The market, and indeed society, cannot begin to benchmark and incentivize enhanced performance on these critical workforce issues until more companies disclose their actual policies as the first step,” Whittaker writes.

Speaking up for women in the workplace

Navigating office gender issues is complicated, but there are ways both men and women can be more supportive of female colleagues, according to Joanne Lipman, author of “That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need to Know About Working Together.” In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, she shares some advice on dealing with the complexities of the gender gap. “If men have questions about appropriate behavior, just ask,” she says. “Women are generally not going to be offended.” Lipman believes women can help other women in the workplace in subtle ways. “First, interrupt the interrupters: Say, ‘Oh, Betsy is speaking. I would love to hear her finish.’ Some companies now have No Interruptions rules. Second, amplify: When a woman says something, another woman repeats her idea, giving her credit by name. And my favorite is brag buddies: Two women recount their achievements to each other, and then each one goes to the boss and brags about the other,” she says.

A new directory lists women in venture capital worldwide 

Last week, venture capital investors Sutian Dong and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove introduced their Global Women in VC Directory, an online database of nearly 1,000 women investors. “If you want to continue to promote and elevate women in venture, there needs to be career progression and upward mobility,” Peltz-Zatulove told Inc.’s Guadalupe Gonzalez. “Having this infrastructure enables them to find each other to connect and collaborate in a more efficient way.” The directory’s members currently span 29 countries and 597 venture firms. It is free to join, but only available to those investing in institutional and corporate funds. Typically, members invest in deals for enterprise, health care, fintech and consumer startups. “This is the largest self-reported database for female investors in the world,” Dong said. “We aim to be that connecting tissue—a gateway to other markets for these other women. It’s just transformational.”

Women-led companies are better for employees

Women-led companies are not only better for business, but also better at meeting the overall job satisfaction needs of employees, claims Caroline Castrillon. In a blog post for Forbes, she cites the results of several studies, including one analysis which found that women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drove three times the returns of S&P 500 enterprises run predominantly by men. Another study, conducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll and The Female Quotient, revealed that 50 percent of Americans would rather work at a female-led company than a male-led company because they’re more purpose-driven, more likely to have access to childcare, and more likely to offer equal pay. Peakon, a real-time HR insights platform, recently isolated five of the areas in which women-led companies are clearly thriving relative to male-led companies: strategy, mission, belief, communication and autonomy. “Having more females in executive roles is not only fair, but it’s good for business and employees. If organizations around the world can commit to making gender diversity a priority, everyone will win,” Castrillon concludes.

The founders’ effect on gender parity in tech

Tech companies founded by men rarely achieve gender parity in the workforce, while a balanced workforce is the norm among companies started by women, according to a new analysis by recruiter Stellares. At companies with all-male founders, about 14 percent of leadership positions are held by women, while at those started by all-women founders, the split is about even. “So what’s a committed male founder to do? One way to counter the trend is to put women in charge of the HR department. Roi Chobadi, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Stellares, told Bloomberg. When women make up at least half of the human resources positions, a higher proportion of the company leadership—about 20 percent—will also be women, the analysis found. The same improvements were found in HR departments with increased levels of minority staff.

How to increase gender diversity in insurance leadership

While the value of gender diversity is well recognized, women’s progress into senior business leadership roles remains mixed, argues Allison Dubrow. Dubrow, along with Peter Reed and Bill Pieroni, is the author of a new report, “Increasing Gender Diversity in Insurance Leadership.” In an article in Carrier Management, the authors highlight how insurers can build a more gender-diverse leadership pipeline: 1. Signal the importance of diversity from the top, especially from male leaders. 2. Make leaders accountable for sponsoring and developing women. 3. Foster an environment that welcomes diverse perspectives. The authors also have suggestions for women looking to move into the leadership pipeline in the insurance industry: 1. Speak up about your interests and aspirations. 2. Don’t wait to feel ready. 3. Continue expanding your knowledge. 4. Build relationships. “Truly increasing opportunities for women requires the active participation of male leaders, including setting expectations that they will identify high-potential women and commit to their development,” they write.

The best and worst places for women to work

Women looking to work abroad better scratch Greece off their list and consider Czechia (Czech Republic) instead, according to a new ranking released by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community. “Have you ever gone on a vacation to a beautiful, relaxing place like Greece or Italy and fantasized about living and working there? You might want to think again,” writes Laura Begley Bloom in Forbes. The ranking of best and worst countries for women to work abroad is based on insights of more than 8,000 women who took part in the annual Expat Insider Survey, covering topics such as career prospects, work-life balance and job security. The 10 Best Countries for Women to Work Abroad are: Czechia, Bahrain, Taiwan, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Malta, and Australia. The 10 Worst Countries for Women to Work Abroad are: Greece, Italy, Serbia, Argentina, Turkey, Myanmar, South Africa, and Romania. The United States ranked 29th out of 57 countries.

230 companies listed on the 2019 Gender-Equality Index

Also at Davos last week, Bloomberg’s Kiersten Barnet shared the 2019 Gender-Equality Index, which recognizes companies for their effort toward reaching gender parity. The index more than doubled in size from 2018 and now features 230 leading companies from 10 sectors across 36 countries. Collectively these firms employ more than 15 million people (including 7 million women) around the world. Argentina, China, Israel and South Africa are among the 13 markets that made the list for the first time this year. “While there’s certainly room for improvement, the index reveals some promising advancements for women,” notes Danielle Westermann King in HR Executive. She cites key findings: 43 percent of all promotions in 2017 were awarded to women, 68 percent of companies evaluate advertising and marketing content for gender bias before publication and 39 percent of companies acted to resolve pay disparities in FY 2017. View the full list of companies (including Accenture) here.

Wall Street’s boys-club problem

The gender gap in finance was back in the news last week when Citigroup disclosed that its female employees earn 29 percent less than its male employees globally. “It’s no secret that women are lagging behind their male counterparts in the financial industry,” CNBC reports. “But it’s not just about a pay gap—there are also fewer females working in the business.” Women account for less than 17 percent of senior leaders in U.S. investment banking, according to a Catalyst study released last year. And Morningstar found that less than 10 percent of all U.S. fund managers are women. “Wall Street’s been a boy’s club forever,” Ritholtz Wealth Management’s Blair duQuesnay told CNBC. “Whatever we’ve been doing to try and encourage more women hasn’t worked. So I think we need to shake it up and try something different.” Last week, in an op-ed for The New York Times, she pointed out that while years of research show female investors outperform men, women still only account for 20 percent of financial advisors. “Our clients are women too. Women are half of the population and they are only one-fifth of advisors, a number that hasn’t changed in the 15 years that I’ve been doing this,” duQuesnay said.

Gender differences in top career regrets

When it comes to Americans’ biggest career regrets, there are significant differences between men and women and the types of risks they take. Zety, an online resume builder and career site, surveyed 1,000 American workers about career regrets and job satisfaction. The three of the most common regrets for women dealt with money: not negotiating a higher starting salary, choosing a field that didn’t pay very well, and not being aggressive enough during raise negotiations. Significantly more men than women regret not working harder, not maintaining their network, and not taking more initiative. “This data directly echoes what I’m seeing in my career and executive coaching practice focused on the advancement of women in business,” writes Kathy Caprino in a Forbes blog post. “I’ve seen that many women show a deeper reluctance than men to negotiate powerfully for themselves, ask for more money and responsibility, go out on their own, pursue highly lucrative fields and join more risk-intensive ventures such as start-ups.”

The link between Brexit and gender balance

The United Kingdom’s looming skills shortage may be eased by increasing the gender balance in the workforce, argues Avivah Wittenberg-Cox. “If companies want to lessen the pressure of losing European employees, they may want to let their gaze wander to the other side of the kitchen table,” she writes in Forbes. “Women remain an under-utilized and under-supported resource in the UK. Brexit will raise the stakes – and the cost – of mismanaging half the country’s potential labor force.” The UK’s female employment rate is at 71 percent, compared to 80 percent for men. Wittenberg-Cox points out that increasing female employment levels to that of Sweden’s (75 percent) could boost the country’s GDP by 9 percent (£170 billion). “May 2019 be a gender-balanced year for your company, tempering the storms of Brexit with a sea of balanced talent,” she concludes.

Female CEOs more likely to be fired than males, study finds

According to a new study in the Journal of Management, female CEOs are dismissed at a much higher rate than male CEOs. Researchers from four U.S. universities looked at data from publicly traded companies between 2000 and 2014, including press releases and databases such as ExecuComp and BoardEx. They found that female CEOs were 45 percent more likely to be fired than their male counterparts. More interestingly, the gap was only evident at companies that were performing well, notes Fortune’s Kristen Bellstrom. “So, what’s going on? [The researchers] suggest that when a company is performing badly, the decision to fire the CEO is often clear-cut,” she writes. “But when it’s doing well, there is considerable ambiguity about the CEO’s leadership of the firm and no clear script for the board to follow. In that situation, board members are more likely to fall back on the gender stereotypes and decide that the female CEO doesn’t have the ‘leadership qualities’ needed to continue the company’s winning run.” Bellstrom admits this is bleak news, but believes it is worth studying. “Research like this sets us up to anticipate and perhaps influence those [ambiguous] moments and—most importantly—brings them to the attention of those whose bias has the power to wreck companies and careers,” she concludes.

Internships key to closing gender gap

 A robust and inclusive internship program can be a gateway to increasing gender and other types of diversity within an organization, argues Joan Kuhl in this ForbesWomen op-ed article. “Businesses need to create a path to success for female employees at all levels,” she writes. “An internship program that targets and cultivates entry-level female employees can lay the groundwork for this success at your company.” Kuhl shares four tips for creating an effective internship program for recruiting and retaining women: 1. Actively seek out female candidates by partnering through organizations that connect diverse students with employers. 2. Invest in training to show female interns they are valued and a part of the company. 3. Connect interns with other employees to provide them with greater insight into the types of career paths available to them. 4. Provide access to C-level executives to give female interns visibility and empower them to reach new leadership heights. “Not only do internship programs give employers access to a large pool of potential hires, they can also leverage current interns and alumnae as brand ambassadors to support recruiting efforts and maintain a steady flow of new talent into the organization,” Kuhl writes.

Why women leave banking

 “Women leave [banking] for many reasons, but young women look up and either see too few people like them in senior roles or, worse, too few opportunities,” argues Cate Luzio in this American Banker op-ed. A 20-year veteran of the industry, she believes that leaders in banking need a bottom-up and top-down approach to growing the pipeline. “You can’t miss the obvious absence of women across all levels in banking,” she writes. “If we don’t push for hiring more, we will never reach gender parity. We won’t see any change at the top unless we make progress throughout.” Instead of relying on spearfishing, Luzio believes banks should be grooming talent within the organization for bigger roles. When it comes to recruiting, she recommends looking outside the box and expanding the selection of schools and majors. In order to retain women, banks need to create an environment that allows them to envision a career path; one that they find inspiring. “When you get to a certain level, and you are confident in yourself and your work and know what you want, putting up with the undermining office politics and lack of support starts to feel like a toxic situation,” Luzio writes. “We are less likely to stick around because we have other things that matter to us. It shouldn’t have to be like that.”

Creating a workplace that works for women

In this ForbesWomen piece, Michelle King shares three tips from Cheryl Eisen, CEO of Interior Marketing Group, to create work environments that support women to thrive. Women make up 75 percent of IMG’s employees and 76 percent of the entire leadership. 1. Be intentional about your culture. “Build a culture of growth and support. We tout that we’re this fempire. We are women managers and we are women employees, I think that really helps in being emphatic in terms of how we deal with each other,” Eisen told King. 2. Hire people who fit the culture. Eisen says her company does interview men, but adds that men from male-dominated industries such as finance might find her company’s culture different. 3. Maintain the culture by advancing employees. “I think statistically it shows that women are less likely to be promoted into management roles in large organizations than men are. I think if you change that and give women opportunities to grow they’ll thrive,” Eisen says.

Trust is key to reducing the workplace gender gap

In this Forbes piece, Henna Inam shares the highlights of her interview with Sally Helgesen, co-author of How Women Rise, about what she sees as the state of trust among genders, particularly in the workplace. Helgesen says while the trust gap may not be widening in general, it does remain acute in some organizations. “The primary causes in my experience are the continuing paucity of women at very senior levels and the disparities in how women are still often paid,” she says. “This last has the potential to be toxic, especially when a woman learns after years in a job that a man at a comparable level–– or even a level or two below–– is being paid more for similar work. When that happens, the women in the company lose trust in their leadership, and it becomes very hard to regain.” Helgesen says companies are running out of excuses when it comes to the lack of women in senior leadership roles. “It used to be considered a pipeline issue, but many companies have now been hiring at parity for nearly two decades. For a while we heard about a supposed “ambition gap” but research has disproved that one,” she says. “Women’s expectations today are higher, and that is all to the good. But when those expectations are routinely disappointed, women tend to lose trust in their organization’s leaders.”

California becomes first U.S. state to mandate women on boards

California has become the first state to require publicly traded companies to include women on their boards of directors. The Sept. 30 measure requires at least one female director on the board of each California-based public corporation by the end of next year. Companies will need up to three female directors by the end of 2021, depending on the number of board seats, Time reports. They can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for subsequent violations. India, Germany, Australia, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Israel already have similar mandates. Maureen Kline, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America, believes the state made the right move. “Women have plenty of intellectual talent and leadership skills, by any measure, yet are under-represented on corporate boards. Better talent on the board can translate into better decisions for the company and better performance,” she writes in this Inc. guest blog post. “As cultural norms continue to evolve, we need more women in leadership positions acting as role models. Young women need to know there is a place for them at the top. California will lead the way.”

IMF: The world needs more women in finance

According to “Women in Finance: A Case for Closing Gaps,” the newest study from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services would have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. “Growing evidence suggests that increasing women’s access to and use of financial services can have both economic and societal benefits. For example, in Kenya, women merchants who opened a basic bank account invested more in their businesses. Female-headed households in Nepal spent more on education after opening a savings account,” IMF Blog notes. The paper also looked at the gaps between the numbers of men and women in leadership positions in banks and in banking-supervision agencies worldwide. It found that women accounted for fewer than 2 percent of financial institutions’ chief executive officers and fewer than 20 percent of executive board members. “The analysis suggests that the presence of women as well as a higher share of women on bank boards appears associated with greater financial resilience,” write the authors of the study.

To drive innovation, improve gender diversity

According to Ravi Saligram, CEO of Ritchie Bros., diversity in the workforce not only brings a rich flavor to an organization, but also is a must to drive innovation. “Unfortunately, gender discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious, may get in the way and leave a business dull and bland,” he writes in this Chief Executive op-ed piece. Saligram cites a Harvard Business Review study, which found a statistically significant relationship between diversity and innovation. According to the study, companies with above-average diversity also have higher innovation revenues. “This serves as a proof point for the need for a robust and proactive diversity and inclusion plan,” he writes. “A diverse culture can help guard against group think, increase the scale of new insights and identify the right employees who can tackle a company’s most pressing problems.” Saligram believes change must start at the top, by adding more women to senior management roles and leadership positions. He also lists several other recommendations to improve gender diversity across the workforce. “Having a commitment to providing an environment where all employees are treated with fairness and respect and have equal access to opportunities for advancement based on merit, skills and aptitude is the path forward. It starts at the top, but it must cascade, with consistency, throughout the organization to stir the pot and create a flavorful stew that is the catalyst for long-term change,” he concludes.

Drop in female CEOs causes stir

Earlier this month, The New York Times noted that the number of women running the top publicly traded companies is going down, not up, and suggested this should “raise all sorts of soul searching about what’s happening in corporate America.” CNN Money followed with “Female CEOs are rare. Two in a row is almost unheard of.” According to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, these news articles should raise a red flag. “A 25 percent decrease (in women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies) is a big blow, especially considering how hard it is to even get into a room that might have a glass ceiling in the first place,” she wrote in an opinion piece for CNN. The glass ceiling is still solid for women, argues Rowe-Finkbeiner, who make up only 5 percent of CEOs and 21 percent of senior VPs in Fortune 500 companies. “All of this must change. And that change starts with you: Not everyone can apply to be CEO, but we can all use our buying power to support corporations that are reaching toward equity,” she writes. “Use your voice, your money, and your vote to break through that bulletproof glass ceiling. Let’s make it rain glass.”

New research finds gender balance crucial in bank boards

According to new research by Alison Miles, a lecturer at the University of Plymouth’s Business School, women in top roles in financial services behave in a way that may have made the global banking crisis less likely. Miles presented her findings to a House of Commons Treasury committee and the UK’s Banking Standards Board. The research, conducted over a five-year period, compared the leadership characteristics of male and female top executives of global banks from 1999 to 2017. Miles then compared them with the leadership styles of the executives in the 16 banks that failed or needed a bailout after the crisis. The research shows the leadership styles of top male executives at the failing institutions featured “alpha male” characteristics such as arrogance and hubris. Senior women leaders tended to show characteristics such as commitment to values and an internal moral compass. The research reveals the latter were absent in the failing banks. “In the 11 years since the financial crisis, the world has continued to see global banks embroiled in scandal and losses, despite an increased focus on banking standards and reforms designed to improve market discipline. Evidence is growing to suggest that the leadership styles of senior board members, both male and female, is a crucial element to be considered,” Miles said.

Gender gap in finance doesn’t exist according to men

According to a new CNBC and LinkedIn survey, seven in 10 male respondents working in financial services believe that “men and women are promoted at an equal rate.” Seventy-five percent of men in finance also believe that men and women in equal roles are paid the same at their companies, while only 40 percent of the women surveyed think the same. “Workers agree that there is a bias in the corporate culture of finance that continues to hold women back. Yet there is disagreement between men and women — as well as senior leaders and entry-level associates — on whether the industry is changing,” CNBC reports. “Even if you do the same amount of work as a guy, it’s like you have to work harder,” a female managing director at a prominent investment firm in New York City told LinkedIn. “Then you have to talk about it all the time and you have to talk about it with more people.”

Business schools look to attract more women to finance

According to the Financial Times, despite years of efforts from leaders in financial services, the industry is still having a hard time shedding its “pale, male and stale,” reputation. The article notes women account for less than a quarter of the senior staff at 25 of the world’s largest banks and hold only a fifth of executive committee roles at 50 U.S. financial services companies. “Many of the world’s most influential business schools, have also recognized that gender imbalance among students may have contributed to the problem,” the FT reports. “But they also realize they can play a role addressing it.” While the number of scholarships aimed at female MBA participants has increased over the last decade, progress on recruiting has been slow. The Robert H Smith School of Business in Maryland has set a gender-parity target for 2020 and has increased its female-candidate population from 36 percent in 2015 to 39.5 percent this year. London’s Imperial College Business School has gender equality as one of its 10 strategic priorities, and has seen the number of female MBAs rise to 44 percent in four years.

Europe’s central banks lag in gender equality

According to Benoit Coeure, a European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board member, both the ECB and its member banks need more women in leadership positions. Just one of the six policy makers on the current Executive Board—which is appointed by European-area governments—is female and since its establishment in 1998, only three women have served on the board. “The imbalance has long been an embarrassment even in the male-dominated world of central banks,” Bloomberg reports. Of the 19 central banks that make up the ECB’s governing council, only one institution in the region—in Cyprus—is led by a woman. “Our profession increasingly struggles with a lack of diversity—something that may also affect public acceptance and, hence, trust,” Coeure said at a recent bank conference. “The measures to increase the number of female managers can help address the problem closer to its root—and it will make us a better central bank.”

Women in the workforce help grow the economy, study finds

According to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), getting more women into the workforce helps generate economic growth. The OECD points to the success of Nordic countries as compared with the rest of the organization’s 35 member countries, Bloomberg reported last week. Female employment rates in the Nordic region range from 68 to 83 percent compared with the OECD average of 59 percent, according to the study. The organization estimates that this shift in the workforce has added as much as 20 percent to economic growth per capita. Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the OECD, told Bloomberg the key to the region’s success was a “continuum of support to families with children,” including “generous paid-leave for new parents; subsidized and high-quality early childhood education and care; and out-of-school-hours care.” “I see no reason why other countries shouldn’t be able to copy the Nordic model,” said Henriette Laursen, head of the Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity. 

Go beyond hiring for gender equality

Speaking of women in the workforce, in this guest blog for Forbes BrandVoice, Kip Soteres talks about how organizations can welcome more women and become true advocates for them. Here are three things men in leadership positions can do to improve workplace gender equality beyond hiring more women: 1. Be sure to have the right perks, benefits and work environment to retain them (track turnover carefully to assess whether cultural or other factors are driving them away). 2. Champion less, listen more (support women in leadership and challenge them). 3. Create more resources and networks (establish a centralized forum to provide feedback and insights). “Men can be a part of this momentum by advocating, listening and supporting these efforts,” Soteres writes.

Gender gap narrows for female bankers in Brazil

Three international banks have named women to head their operations in Brazil, Bloombergreported last week. In February, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. named Maria Silvia Bastos Marques chief executive officer for Brazil, while Credit Suisse Group AG nominated Ana Paula Pessoa to a seat on its global board, the first Brazilian to hold that post. In March, Deutsche Bank followed suit by picking Maite Leite as its new country head. However, “it’s a different story at the nation’s three biggest local banks, where recent progress has yet to land a woman in one of the top spots,” Bloomberg notes. Banco de Brasil SA has no female executives, while the other top banks, Banco Bradesco SA and Itau Unibanco Holding SA only feature women descendants of the firms’ founding families. “One day, looking back, we’ll be ashamed seeing how things are today in terms of diversity,” Banco do Brasil Chief Executive Officer Paulo Caffarelli told Bloomberg. The article cites a 2016 study by Oliver Wyman, which found Norway, South Africa and the U.S. lead in the percentage of female executives in financial services.

Equal Pay Day 2018

Equal Pay Day symbolizes the date until which women must work full-time to earn the same amount that men earned the year before. This year, Equal Pay Day is April 10, meaning women would have had to work an extra 99 days to match what men earned by the end of 2017. In this Forbes blog post, Tanya Tarr looks into a new report by PayScale, a cloud compensation software company, for solutions to close the gender pay gap. “The persistence of the overall gender gap remains a concern and might be due to two structural factors: fewer women in leadership positions, and breaks in employment due to primary caretaking responsibilities,” she writes. The PayScale report found that women aren’t moving up the leadership ladder at the same rate that men do. Men are 70 percent more likely to be in C-suite roles in their mid-career and 142 percent more likely to be in leadership roles in the later part of their career. PayScale’s report also found that women are more likely to take longer breaks from the workforce to take care of children or other family members. The report suggests organizations should address gender issues directly; audit pay practices; examine the gender ratio of leadership positions; and be transparent about equal pay policies.

‘Getting to Equal’

Accenture’s CEO for North America Julie Sweet and Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer Ellyn Shook were interviewed by Jeff Frick, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during our event in San Francisco to highlight International Women’s Day—Creating a Culture of Equality. They discussed the key findings of our recent report, “When She Rises, We All Rise—Getting to Equal.” Shook told SiliconANGLE that she found the research groundbreaking. “Never before have I seen a piece of research that looks at the cultural aspects of an organization and really helps to articulate very transparently the biggest accelerators in a culture for equality,” she said. Sweet outlined the three key revelations of the study: “The first is bold leadership: companies like Accenture who set targets and have CEOs who are very clear about their priorities. The second is comprehensive action, policies and practices that are really effective. Third, which I think is often under-focused on, is an empowering environment. In companies with these factors, women were five times more likely to advance to director or senior manager, and men were two times more likely.” Watch theCube’s full coverage of the event here.

How to get more women into the insurance workforce

When it comes to gender equality in the insurance industry, there is still more work to be done, according one female industry expert. “I think we are doing a better job than we used to at identifying high-potential individuals and making them stay engaged – but it is not a one-time thing, it really needs to be part of an organization’s corporate culture to ensure that women are supported and there is a network for them,” said Kelly MacDonald, SVP for Aon Risk Solutions, in an interview with Insurance Business last week. MacDonald, who will be one of the panelists at the upcoming “Women in Insurance” conference in Toronto, believes that one of the biggest struggles for women in insurance is the lack of mentors. “If we look at senior leadership in lots of large insurance companies and large brokerages, it’s still largely men,” she said. “I’d say that brokerages have done a better job with gender diversity, and some of the smaller boutique firms have been good at supporting women.” The industry as a whole is lagging behind in leveling up female executives, she says, reminding insurers that most organizations that have a more diverse board achieve better results.

Promoting gender diversity in fintechs

March 8 was International Women’s Day, which also coincided with the Finovate Europe 2018 Conference held in London. At one panel, a group of women executives in fintech gathered to discuss how the industry has evolved, how to move forward and the importance of male colleagues getting involved in diversity initiatives. Julie Muhn, Finovate’s senior research analyst and panel moderator, pointed out the number of women representing startups at the conference was at its highest this year – 21 out of 68 companies, or 31 percent. Magdalena Kron, Head of Rise London and Open Innovation VP for Barclays, said she was optimistic about gender diversity in the fintech world. “It’s never been such an amazing time to be a woman in fintech,” she said. “There are VCs proactively looking for women entrepreneurs.” Benedetta Arese Lucini, Oval Money’s co-founder said she believes eliminating the unconscious bias in hiring will be key to increasing gender equality in fintech. “Most CTOs are men, so they tend to hire more men,” she said. “It can’t be just about the C-suite, we need company-wide diversity targets.”

How ‘Fearless Girl’ statue reshaped corporate boardrooms

Last March, Boston-based State Street Corporation erected the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in front of Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ in order to highlight the lack of representation of women in corporate boardrooms. A year later, the asset manager announced that more than 150 companies targeted for not having any female directors have added at least one, reportsAmerican Banker. “We still have a long way to go but we’re happy to see the impact we’ve had so far,” said Rakhi Kumar, who leads environmental, social and governance investment strategy at State Street. “This is about diversity of thought and backgrounds. Women could be 50 percent of your customer base, and 30 percent of your employees. How are you representing the views of half of society?” The number of companies in the Russell 1000 Index without any women on their boards has fallen to 47 from a recent high of 176 in 2009. After focusing on 787 companies in the U.S., U.K. and Australia without a female director in 2017, State Street added boards in Japan and Canada to the target list this year, Kumar said.

Gender equality leads to stable returns for investors

According to the World Economic Forum, the top three gender-equal nations are Iceland, Norway and Finland. The region’s biggest bank, Nordea, told Bloomberg last week, “A key contribution that women make to the companies they run is stable returns.” Nordea’s researchers analyzed returns on capital employed by 100 of the largest companies in the region over a 12-year period and discovered that doubling the number of women on boards and in top management led to more stable returns. “Now that the pace of change has increased, the pressure on these management teams and on these boards is greater than before,” said Johan Trocmé, director of research insights at Nordea, in an interview with Bloomberg. The Nordea study also found the Nordic companies with the most women outperformed their European peers. “Norway has led the way for the others to see this is actually do-able without the world going under,” Trocmé said. “If you have a board of directors which is 100 percent white males aged 45 to 65 with the same sort of upbringing and ethnicity, will they take in and weigh and consider all the inputs from society, from the economy, from the customer base, from the regulator, when they make decisions?”

Gender equality in management

How has gender equality in the U.S. workforce progressed over the last three decades? William Scarborough analyzed U.S. Census data from 1980 and 2010 and derived three major trends. “Women’s representation in management is higher than it’s ever been,” he writes for Harvard Business Review, citing women obtained 2.6 million management positions of the 4.5 million created since 1980. However, the ‘not-so-good news’ according to Scarborough is the fact that the rise is accompanied by a large increase in the occupational gender segregation of managers. “In 1980 not a single management occupation was majority women. By 2010, however, we find that some occupations are female-dominated while others are male-dominated,” he writes. The bad news? Scarborough found the occupations where female managers were concentrated by 2010 were also those with the largest gender wage gaps. “I found that the shifts in managerial gender equality are extremely complicated — with progressive change in one measure coupled with backward tendencies in others,” he writes.

Closing the gender gap in tech

“Women within the tech sector in Silicon Valley make up as little as 11 percent of the region’s executive roles and a mere 20 percent of software development roles,” writes Navreet Singh in this WilsonHCG blog post. “The gap can and should be bridged.” Singh has a six-step roadmap to recruit more women into tech: 1. Uncover career aspirations (take the time to gain true insight into the different career aspirations, working styles, and personal goals of candidates). 2. Gather data (review recruitment ratios by gender, as well as analyzing diversity statistics and the sourcing tools chosen for recruitment). 3. Know the marketplace and competitors’ strategies (research and gain clarity around the markets in which we recruit, as well as what our competitors are doing to attract women). 4. Know and openly discuss your brand (present what the organization has to offer in terms of benefits, cultural perks and career paths). 5. Strategic marketing, precise messaging (market with carefully written, accurate job descriptions, career pages, social media language, benefit documents, and so on). 6. Avoid unconscious bias (start the conversation around diversity and inclusion, listen and learn from your people as well as the talent landscape and, however small, take action today).

Davos 2018 made women a C-suite topic

As journalists and thought leaders across the globe continue to analyze the trends and highlights of the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, gender equality continues to make the headlines. “It was the first WEF annual meeting to be chaired entirely by women. It was also the first to take place during a time when, by the WEF’s own metrics, women’s progress toward parity with men had begun to move backwards,” CBS MoneyWatchreported last week. Barri Rafferty, CEO of Ketchum, told CBS, “This year, female topics – whether it was pay equity, equality – really moved from the side room and being an HR topic to being a C-suite topic.” Rafferty recalled being “frequently mistaken” at previous gatherings as the spouse of an invited guest. “For a long time, the yearly gathering was another demonstration of women’s under-representation, so much so that the meeting’s organizers put in place their own quotas back in 2011 to try to remedy the problem,” according to CBS. “While the WEF meeting – like the rest of the world – has a long way to go to reach full parity between the sexes, it has taken center stage in the discussion.”

Tackling the gender gap at Davos

“Women’s roles in both society and the workplace were one of the key themes in Davos this week,” writes Gay Flashman in this WEF blog post. “Finally a panel, not a manel,” was a memorable quote from WEF co-chair Christine Lagarde, referring to the all-women leadership of the conference this year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made the news with his special address to Davos. “I’m talking about hiring, promoting and retaining more women,” Trudeau said. “Not because it’s the right thing to do, or the nice thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai underscored the importance of education when it comes to closing the gender gap. “When we talk about feminism and women’s rights, we’re actually addressing men,” she said. Men have a big role to play … We have to teach young boys how to be men. In order to be a man you have to recognize that all women and all those around you have equal rights and that you are part of this movement for equality.”